Ask Your Preacher
I have a younger group of friends, and I love them, but one of them has already been married, left their spouse, and divorced them (not for scriptural reasons), and I have a second friend who is currently no longer living with their spouse and is going to divorce their spouse (not for scriptural reasons). It absolutely breaks my heart that they are doing this because marriage is such a blessing, a blessing that God instructed us not to dissolve unless there has been unfaithfulness by a spouse.
Having been at both friends’ weddings, I was a "witness" to their marriage, not to mention I have known them for so long that I want what is the very best for them. One friend is already divorced (a couple years ago), but what should I do, if anything, about my second friend? I worry so much for them and what consequences this will bring upon them.
Any advice you have will really help me greatly! Thank you!
Dear Struggling Friend,
It is such a difficult thing when we see others we love doing that which is so very harmful to their souls. What does the Bible teach to do in such matters? Here are a couple of principles to consider:
- Pr 23:23 says to “Buy the truth, and do not sell it.” The truth must always be more important to you than anything else, and you can’t compromise the truth and sell it out just to preserve a friendship… no matter how dear they are to you (Lk 14:26). In no way can you compromise your morals by saying that what they have done is no big deal or somehow okay. They have chosen to sin – plain and simple.
- The Bible also teaches that we should have mercy on those that are turning from the Lord and seek to snatch them from the fire and hate the sin at the same time (Jude 23). Being Christ-like means intertwining both the hatred of sin and the love of man together.
- You must also be careful to not compromise your own conscience. If you feel that doing things with them is sending the message that you don’t care about this sin and somehow approve of their decision, then you must obey your own conscience (1 Tim 1:5). How close or distant to be when a friendship is strained by sinful choices is a matter of wisdom and discretion. You must decide for yourself what boundaries to set.
Balancing these principles, here are our thoughts. If you haven’t already, you must make your position known to these friends. If they were seeking an abortion or some other clear sin, you would address them – divorce for any reason other than adultery is just as clear a sin (Matt 19:9).
You didn’t indicate whether or not these friends are Christians. If they are, hopefully their congregations will also be addressing them on this issue, and you wouldn’t be the only voice. If not, you may be the only person that they know who will stand in the gap for their spiritual well-being. After saying your piece, you can then treat the relationship like any other – watch and use wisdom to decide the boundaries and level of closeness, so you may both snatch them from the fire but not compromise your own firm convictions by being steamrolled by friends that have unfaithful convictions of their own. Allow your unwavering example to be a blessing, and then let them decide whether or not they want that blessing in their life.
What does you do when you have friends that drink and you are not much of a drinker? I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. My husband and I are not big drinkers, just maybe one every so often, but we met some friends while riding bikes, and they do. What do we do?
Trying Not To Wine
Dear Trying Not To Wine,
Pr. 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Alcohol has caused more problems, deaths, sin, etc. than could ever be fathomed by the mind of man. 1 Cor 15:33 says that we should be very careful with the company we keep because bad company can corrupt good morals. The best thing you can do is make your stand on this issue in a kind way and make it clear that drinking isn’t going to be part of your lifestyle. If these friends are real friends, they will respect your views, and at the least, not do it around you or push you to do it. If they can’t respect that… they probably aren’t real friends.
First of all, we are loving Christians who tithe and give our offerings, and God has blessed us dearly.
However, there is a family who are friends with our family, and we love them. Yet, they are constantly taking advantage of our niceness and Christian faith because they are always asking for things, especially money, and they know we will try to help them… $40 here, $60 there, $100 here, another $40 there, another $80 there. Many times it is twice a month or once a month. This has been occurring over and over and over for the past three to four years. Although they never pay us back, we continue to help them out because this is the Christian thing to do. However, there is a time for all things! It is just getting out of hand! Will God be upset with us if we slowly and kindly stop giving them money and start putting these resources to better use? Thank you for your help.
Give Me A Break
Dear Give Me A Break,
The Bible tells us that it is a good thing to give and help others who are in need (Acts 20:35, Matt 19:21). However, the Bible also has some strict rules regarding those who are unwilling to work and are always looking for handouts. 2 Thess 3:10 says that if a man won’t work, neither let him eat. There is a point where giving to someone can actually hinder them from being productive and enable entitlement behavior.
Furthermore, the Bible tells us to be good stewards of what we have (1 Cor 4:2). How you budget and spend your money needs to be generous and wise. It sounds like you feel that you are being generous, but you are no longer being wise in your financial dealings.
I am a Christian, and I have an old friend who is an atheist. My friend has been married for seventeen years and last summer came close to a divorce after his wife discovered that he was having an affair. They have since reconciled but have sought no counseling. I have even suggested they begin this new chapter in their lives by joining a church. This suggestion was laughed off. He and his wife along with my wife and me are going on vacation together in three weeks. We live 900 miles apart from one another.
Now that you have the background, here's the question. Yesterday, he asked me to renew his wife's and his vows on the beach! My knee-jerk response was, "No, I can't do that. You need a preacher!" He responded by saying that he doesn't need a preacher, and he just needs someone to do the vows, and who better than his old best friend? Something is nagging at me. First of all, I don't think they have taken the right steps to ensure a solid marriage going forward, but there seems to be more bothering me. Is there something wrong with a Christian renewing the vows of a couple who are not Christians? Is there something wrong with someone other than a preacher renewing a married couple’s vows? Thank you.
An Old Friend
Dear An Old Friend,
No, there isn't anything wrong with you helping them renew their vows – after all, they aren't officially getting married; they did that seventeen years ago. This is just a couple trying to reconcile and re-embrace a healthy marriage. God says that marriage is to be held in honor by all (Heb 13:4). It isn't a sin for you to help any married couple try and renew a sense of honor in their marriage.
I have had an account on Facebook for a few months now. I have friends that are members of different denominations. Many times, I see them on Sunday or Wednesday make comments on "saving" someone or give a preview of a lesson they are going to preach, and I have even witnessed one typing the "sinner’s prayer" for someone to read to obtain salvation. We both know salvation is not obtained by prayer. My question is: should I just not take part in those conversations, so I don't start a cyber war because their friends are the ones agreeing with them… or should I speak up and proclaim the truth? Face-to-face, I would correct them using Scripture, but it's easy to scroll on by when on Facebook. What would you do?
In every area of life, when to speak up and when to remain silent is a skill that takes time and wisdom to acquire. The Bible teaches us to be brave and courageous with God’s truth (Lk 12:3-4, 2 Tim 1:7), but it also teaches us to not waste time on those who aren’t interested (Matt 7:6).
If the situation seems appropriate, feel free to make a comment on Facebook that there is another side to the story when it comes to the plan of salvation… but don’t feel guilty if it is clear they aren’t looking for input. You can always use the information in the public Facebook post as a catalyst for a private conversation… which might be a better setting.